This post is part of a 95 post series discussing the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto as they relate to business in 2009. Read more about the series in the introduction post. And check out the rest of the series!
Thesis #12: There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
The tone of this thesis related to transparency, which is more relevant now than ever before. For two reasons:
- Your (that’s your company, not just you personally) every move online is being watched by somebody (apologies for getting all “big brother” for a second)
- The watchers are almost as busy watching each other as they are watching you.
That’s the power of a networked market. For every ounce that it can work for you, it can also work against you.
This is the point where companies freak out about the internet, and understandably so. They are no longer the only source of information about themselves, and the press wire is no longer the only channel that information travels along.
You can’t stop it. Hiding from it doesn’t make it go away. So lets turn lemons into lemonade.
Growing up, my mom always told me not to lie or try to keep secrets from her. I don’t know if my mom had a “networked market” at her disposal, but “I’ll always find out”, she said. And more often than not, she did. Eventually, I learned that it was easier to just be forthcoming all the time, since she went much easier on me if I told her how I’d fucked up, rather than having to deal with admitting to lying AND cleaning up whatever I fucked up.
Companies are going to need to learn the same lesson I did from my mom, and be a part of that networked market response.
If the market talking, good or bad, they’re also talking with or without you. If your company isn’t a part of that discussion, what happens? You breed mistrust within your customers, and you scorch any loyalty you may have already built.
Recently, Hulu did a great job of handling a mis-step that could have easily been spit back in their face. When there was a customer backlash about removing episodes of a very popular show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, they could have said “tough, our content partner said we had to take them down”. But instead, Hulu’s CEO openly admitted to dropping the ball and apologized, avoiding a potentially messy cleanup with their customers, and FX (the content provider).
Another recent example of this sort of open, transparent reaction was when Cork’d was hack’d. TechCrunch, notorious for being one massive megaphone for the networked market of startups and technology startup culture, and its’ rabidly opinionated fingerpointing audience began speculating. Their speculations were stopped dead in their tracks when the site’s owner, Gary Vaynerchuk, showed up in the comments of the post with a video. There was no finger pointing, no blame on anyone but himself. Gary admitted to Cork’d having fallen out of his priorities, and explained his roadmap for recovering the site. Later, he went on to post a video on his personal blog recapping the day. Gary didn’t just avoid keeping secrets, he turned the whole day into a lesson for his readers!
Again, the lesson is simple: for better or for worse, your every move is being watched. By a networked market, or my mom, you will get found out, and everybody will know.
Be a part of the networked market to know that people are talking, and use that as an opportunity to regain footing.
Be honest. Be authentic. Be transparent.
And end up looking like the hero.
Whatever you do, don't build your coworking community alone.
Join the 3000+ community builders who get my newest posts, lessons, stories, and tips like "How to fund your coworking space" and "Why I hate the title Community Manager"